COMPREHENSIVE TRAVEL REPORT, BOSTON
Arrived in Boston at 2:30 PM after a 10 hour drive. Couldn’t check in to the Taj yet because they didn’t have our room ready, and ended up waiting over an hour until we finally received our room. The Taj was an entirely different story (http://bit.ly/nOM9Lf). After we got a nap, we explored Newbury street and took the hotel car to the Prudential Center to grab a snack before our duck tour. After enjoying some Kettle Chips from Shaw’s, we hopped on the 7:00 PM duck tour. The tour was very informative, funny at times, but without being corny, and our tour guide was great! We headed up to Max Brenner’s around 8:30 PM and were seated without a reservation on the spot, though there were not any other tables open we could see. My wife and I enjoyed Brenner burgers while our son had the chicken sliders. All was great, and the bill was reasonable ($45 with tax and tip). On our way back to the Taj, we stumbled across Sugar Haven, a candy store with all you can imagine from your childhood. My son found Bit-O-Honey candies, his favorite, which we can never find anymore. He got a 1/4th pound for $4 or so and ran out of these candies in two days (which meant, of course, another trip back to Sugar Haven). Upon returning to the Taj, we got a good night’s sleep in their heavenly, but as noted in my review, hairy beds.
My son awoke with discomfort in his middle finger. Our hotel experience hotel was terrible from the get-go and after a few jokes that that was the finger needed most around this hotel (yes, I know…), it soon began swelling, but wasn’t very uncomfortable according to my son. We decided to continued our day as planned. After a $45 breakfast in the Café where my wife and son both had ONE slice of French toast and I, a Belgian waffle and bacon (terribly overpriced and I make better…), we took the hotel car around 9:00 AM down to the Aquarium for a BHC whale watch cruise. The cruise left at 10:00 AM, which left us plenty of time to take pictures and explore the harbor front. The cruise was three hours and went about 50 miles out into the ocean (my son tracked it on his iPad…), I was told. I stayed on the upper deck (where I got a nice burn…) while my wife and son stayed in the A/C at a booth along the window. The boat was quite nice, but the whale watching was only okay. I enjoyed it, and we saw 6-8 different whales, but we didn’t see any tail nor did the whales jump into the sky like dolphins such as the brochure made it seem. As my son said, “the whales looked like shredded tires floating amidst the waves.” Perhaps the cruises out of Gloucester that others have enjoyed are better. Nonetheless, the cruise was relaxing, unlike most of our trip. After getting off, we walked to Sam La Grazza’s (getting lost along the way but using the Langham to help us get back on track). Let me say this was the BEST Ham sandwich I have ever had. My wife and son both got Chipotle Pastrami Sandwiches. At $30 for the entire lunch, it was perhaps the best meal of our trip. We then stopped at TJ Maxx where my wife snagged up a Natori Double Happiness Quilt for $199 ($670 at Macy’s) and then returned to the hotel, as it was in the mid 90s by this point. When we returned, my son’s finger was throbbing and swelled to 2-3 times its normal size. Frantic, my wife called the hotel concierge to ask where we could take him for his finger. She learned both Mass. General and Tufts were overflowed with patients from the heat wave and the concierge recommended a Urgent Care center on Boylston Street. We rushed down to the front, hopped in a cab where the driver refused to move because it wasn’t a fare; it was only 6 blocks. I explained that my son was hurt and it was an easy $10 so “Get movin’…” he refused and sat there, while we were in the back. Just as we were about to open the door to get out, Lindsey, the bellhop, walked up to the car and told him to go right now, as “the boy’s hurt.” He stopped his protest and took us to the CVS on Boylston street, as he did not know where urgent care was nor did he care to try to find it. We asked at CVS, but no one knew. We walked around with an address the concierge gave us and found a small listing for it on a list of about 100 in a dilapidated office building. We reluctantly took the old elevator to the 8th floor to walk into a run-down single bed office where a lady informed us they were only open on weekends. As a hotel concierge at a supposed luxury hotel, you should know better than to send an injured guest to a place like this in general. Perhaps it was an omen that they were closed. On the way back, my son’s finger turned green (gross, I know, I’ll spare you the rest) and we were so disgusted that we avoided all contact with hotel personnel. Upon returning to our room, my wife called our local hospital network and asked if she could get in touch with our doctor (it was now after 7:00 PM) and sent him a voicemail. Luckily, he got it and called us an hour later. He told us, with only a description of the injury, that he hit the finger at the cubicle and that he needed to ice it for a day (which we did all night) and then put heat on it. We went to bed, he, with ice in hand.
The finger had started to “deflate,” that is, it wasn’t 3 times its normal size, just 2x. Today was our “Hahvahd” tour, and my 16-yr-old son wanted to go see the college we came to see. We grabbed pastries at Au Bon Pain (awesome, by the way) and we then took the hotel car to the BGH metro stop and went the 3 or 4 stops to Harvard Square. Right at the top was the meeting place for the tour and the guides gave us info and stickers right away. The tour was pretty pathetic, you saw no buildings, got no admissions information, just a history tour with a pretentious attitude. The guide kept saying “We are hahvahd…we are pretentious…we are elite…” We thought that they were just snobby and arrogant. My son hated the whole college and said that he could never see himself going to such an “arrogant institution of higher learning.” (Took him to Georgetown, today, by the way for the official guide and info session and that is now his school of choice! Great…close to home.) We returned to the hotel by way of the Red and Green line, with a switch at Park St., and the finger was, again, throbbing. It was 1:00 in the PM so we iced it for a bit and then went to the Massachusetts State House. The tour was terrible (our guide didn’t seem to know much) and my son’s finger was throbbing so much he asked to go back to the hotel. We went back, stopping at Cheer’s along the way for some water and pictures of the legendary Bull and Finch Pub and went back to the hotel where we got room service. After icing the finger again, we then walked down Boylston St. to Saks (my son’s favorite store…). We checked at BosTix for BMG tickets that night, but there weren’t any that were Full View, only obstructed. She said they usually sale out by 11:00 or so. After some shopping in the mall, we grabbed dinner at Au Bon Pain on the way back and were not disappointed. After expensive room service, the $22 dinner and beverages made up the difference so both meals averaged to a rather reasonable figure.
We woke up early and explored Newbury street further. We went to BosTix for 10:00 opening and were first in line. We scored some great “Row B” seats for BMG that night and, from there, took the green and red lines of the “T” to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, which was my son’s second favorite part of the trip. My sister-in-law was Ted Kennedy’s foreign policy advisor and my son considers JFK the greatest president in US history (but considers FDR a close second…) The video at the beginning of the trip was great, the exhibits, first class, and the view, unparalleled. We returned to the hotel by the “T” and had a light lunch, as we knew we would be going to the north end this evening. We put heat on the finger for an hour or two, as instructed by our family doctor, and then went to the North end. Driving up there is terribly tight, which I would not recommend if you have a new (or nice) car such as we…luckily, we didn’t either. But the north end was worth it! We checked out Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church we were going to go to Pizzaria Regina, but the line circled the block. We looked around, but most places couldn’t seat you for 15+ min. Continued walking till we found Mike’s Pastry, bought some goodies for after dinner (AWESOME; best canollis and cupcakes I’ve had…and I’ve been to ALL DC’s/N. Va’s cupcake joints). We walked till we ended up at a Whole Foods on Cambridge St, where we bought a Pizza to eat outside. The man who made it for us was very understanding of my son’s lactose intolerance and even changed gloves for us! From there, We went to BMG where we were floored by the performance and agreed, unanimously, that it was the best part of our trip. A great way to end our less-than-great trip. We walked back to the Taj and our trip was over.
Drove another 10 hours…whoo!
In all, we enjoyed ourselves, despite a terrible hotel and a pretentious university...sorry if I offend any Hahvahd fans!